EP 193: Doing More With Less: How Small Business Owners Take A Minimalist Approach

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Imagine you want to get stronger.

What do you do?

If you’re like me, you’d head to the gym, grab some dumbbells, and start squatting, pressing, and curling as many times as you could until your legs and arms felt like they wanted to fall off.

It turns out… more isn’t always more when it comes to the gym.

And more isn’t always more when it comes to your business, either.

Now, repping it out at the gym isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There’s a time and place for focusing on lifting a weight more times.

But it’s not the most efficient way to get stronger.

It absolutely blew my mind when I learned that, if I want to get stronger, I should focus on lifting heavier weights just 1-5 times per set. Yes, just 1-5 times.

For instance, in 2018, I set a goal of doing 10 unassisted, uninterrupted pull-ups in a row.

Before I knew better, I would try to get as many pull-ups as I could every time I was near a bar.

Then, I started doing some research. You see, the best way to hit this kind of strength goal isn’t—shocking enough as it is—to wear yourself out in one or two sets.

It’s to pull way back and instead, try for 5 sets of 3 or 4 sets of 4. Then, slowly over time, increasing your sets and reps until you can manage the goal.

By focusing on low numbers, you’re actually able to increase your results.

And even better? You don’t feel nearly as spent at the end of your workout.

The reason I bring all this up is that some of the most profitable businesses that I’ve had the privilege to examine operate in this sort of fewer reps for more results kind of pattern.

They focus on efficiency. They concentrate on a few key actions. They value rest and space.

As you might know, we have a community-based business model that invites small business owners into a private network where they can have candid conversations about making their businesses better, just like we do here on the podcast.

In the beginning, we really wanted to overdeliver on the value of joining The Network, so we created all sorts of events and exclusive content. At one point, we were hosting 2-3 events and posting 3-4 article-length pieces of content per week.

What we knew is that events and content gave our members something to connect with. It gave them a common language they could use to talk to one another.

But what we didn’t take into account was just how much we were flooding them with points of connection and common languages! It wasn’t that it wasn’t valuable. It wasn’t even that it was overwhelming…

It was just that it was all so diluted.

It was burning out our team, our members weren’t showing up, and it wasn’t enticing new people to join.

Last fall, we decided to pull way back on how many events we planned and how much content we created. In December, we decided to pull back even more.

Now, we host 1 weekly event and we focus on conversation starters around a monthly theme instead of article-length content.

The result? People plan for our events and show up. They anticipate our conversation starters and chime in. They’re more engaged, they’re more motivated, and they’re talking about The Network more with their colleagues.

Doing less has been a serious win for us on all accounts.

Of course, this is just one way that doing less can create more results for your business and your customers.

We asked 4 members of the What Works Network to share what has worked for them and each gave their own take on how businesses can benefit from a less-is-more approach to doing business.

I’d love to know what works for you when it comes to creating more results by doing less. Shoot me a message or tag me in a post on Instagram and let me know! You can find me @tara_mcmullin.

This episode features Shawn FinkKristen TateSarah Grear, and Felicia Baucom.

Cover of What Works book by Tara McMullin

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I've explored goal-setting and planning with small business owners, creatives, and independent workers for over 12 years now. That means I've observed many different types of goal-setters. Some confidently choose a new goal and get to work. Others rebel against...

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